The benefits of timely newborn metabolic screening (Guthrie test)

Image of four babies
Recent cases of babies with a screened disorder have confirmed the benefits of newborn screening.
Almost all babies in New Zealand are screened for rare but life-threatening metabolic disorders. Early detection can prevent severe disability and death. Timely detection of disorders is therefore very important. In 2012, 51 babies were detected as having a metabolic disorder and in 43 of those babies there was no clinical suspicion of the disorder before the screening test result was received.

Recent cases of babies with a screened disorder have confirmed the benefits of newborn screening.  These cases are examples of maternity services and Lead Maternity Carers working hard to ensure the blood spot samples are taken as soon as possible after 48 hours and sent to the laboratory without delay. Prompt screening, diagnosis and treatment of these babies have enabled the best outcomes.

To ensure a newborn metabolic screening blood spot sample is tested in the recommended time for a timely and reliable result:

  • take the sample at 48 to 72 hours after birth
  • dry the blood spot card sample horizontally for two to four hours
  • place in the free FastPost envelope
  • post in a FastPost box.

You can check the location of FastPost boxes in your area here. Free lancets, blood spot cards and postage paid envelopes are available to order by email from: newbornscreeningresources@adhb.govt.nz or phone Lablink: 0800 522 7587.

Further information about the Newborn Metabolic Screening Programme can be found on the National Screening Unit website.

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Page last updated: 09 December 2014